We have all welcomed Jesus with fanfare. Those amazing moments when he seems near, when life is going our way, when blessings overflow. It is easy to shout "Hosanna" then, it is easy to gather others like us to do the same. Rolling the red carpet we are ready for Jesus to take over, he is on our side, doing what we know is "right." Our expectations are high, we can't imagine Jesus failing us now.
Obviously not much has changed in 2,000 years. Jesus had to be the answer to prayer for the many who gather to welcome him. His miracles and his constant speaking with authority must have been refreshing to the many who struggled for a voice, who hungered for real leadership. I'm sure that they thought that this time their struggles would be over, if only Jesus would take over, overthrow the Romans and restore the kingdom of Judah to its rightful place, then all would be made well.
After these many weeks of Lent we too have experienced Jesus. Maybe a bad habit has been broken, maybe a new spiritual discipline has taken hold, or maybe our spiritual life seems "back on track." Now we are really ready for Easter!
So we welcome Jesus into our lives, hearts, and community. "Hosanna to the king!", we proclaim. Thankful, excited, and triumphant we gather to worship. We too carry palms and lift our voices in song. Although we rehearse this saga year after year the ending to this story still seems to surprise us.
Although we think we are ready for Easter, we are not. We now must walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we now need to be reminded of what all this preparation has been about.
I pray that all of us embrace the rhythm of this week. Let us not miss the rest of this story, its twists and turns, its increasing drama, its transforming power.
May this week be the beginning of the end . . .
(To be continued . . .)